Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of jmedethJournal of Medical EthicsVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
J Med Ethics. 1987 March; 13(1): 12–16.
PMCID: PMC1375399

Informed consent and the psychiatric patient.


Informed consent is reviewed as it applies to psychiatric patients. Although new legislation, such as the Mental Health Act 1983, provides a useful safeguard for the protection of the civil rights of patients, it could actually reduce their humane care unless applied with sensitivity for the nature of their unique difficulties. In order to guard against this possibility, we suggest that legal requirements should be considered in light of the ethical principles which underlie them. Three principles are considered: those of autonomy (freedom); beneficence (paternalism); and the fiduciary principle (partnership). Psychotherapy is offered as a model for informed consent, which might be generalised to other clinical situations.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (962K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Stanley BH, Stanley M. Psychiatric patients in research: protecting their autonomy. Compr Psychiatry. 1981 Jul-Aug;22(4):420–427. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Medical Ethics are provided here courtesy of BMJ Publishing Group